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Become A General Sales Associate

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Working As A General Sales Associate

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $63,000

    Average Salary

What Does A General Sales Associate Do

Retail sales workers include both those who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture, and cars, (called retail salespersons) and those who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts (called parts salespersons). Both types of workers help customers find the products they want and process customers’ payments.

Duties

Retail sales workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and offer them assistance
  • Recommend merchandise based on customers’ wants and needs
  • Explain the use and benefit of merchandise to customers
  • Answer customers’ questions
  • Show how merchandise works, if applicable
  • Add up customers’ total purchases and accept payment
  • Inform customers about current sales, promotions, and policies about payments and exchanges

The following are examples of types of retail sales workers:

Retail salespersons work in stores where they sell goods, such as books, cars, clothing, cosmetics, electronics, furniture, lumber, plants, shoes, and many other types of merchandise.

In addition to helping customers find and select items to buy, many retail salespersons process the payment for the sale, which typically involves operating cash registers.

After taking payment for the purchases, retail salespersons may bag or package the purchases.

Depending on the hours they work, retail salespersons may have to open or close cash registers. This includes counting the money in the register and separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers. They may also make deposits at a cash office.

For information about other workers who receive and disburse money, see the profile on cashiers.

In addition, retail salespersons may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or delivery of purchases, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays.

For some retail sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail sales workers need special knowledge or skills. For example, those who sell cars must be able to explain the features of various models, manufacturers’ specifications, different types of options on the car, financing available, and the details of associated warranties.

In addition, retail sales workers must recognize security risks and thefts and understand their organization’s procedures for handling thefts—procedures that may include notifying security guards or calling police.

Parts salespersons sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts. Most work in either automotive parts stores or automobile dealerships. They take customers’ orders, inform customers of part availability and price, and take inventory.

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How To Become A General Sales Associate

Typically, there are no formal education requirements for retail sales workers. Most receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months.

Education

Although retail or parts sales positions usually have no formal education requirements, some employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma or equivalent, especially employers who sell technical products or “big-ticket” items, such as electronics or cars.

Training

Most retail sales workers receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months. In small stores, an experienced employee often trains newly hired workers. In large stores, training programs are more formal and usually conducted over several days.

During training sessions, topics often include customer service, security, the store’s policies and procedures, and how to operate the cash register.

Depending on the type of product they are selling, employees may be given additional specialized training. For example, salespersons working in cosmetics get instruction on the types of products the store offers and for whom the cosmetics would be most beneficial. Likewise, those who sell computers may be instructed on the technical differences between computer products.

Because providing exceptional service to customers is a priority for many employers, employees often get periodic training to update and refine their skills.

Advancement

Retail sales workers typically have opportunities to advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Some employers want candidates for managerial positions to have a college degree.

As sales workers gain experience and seniority, they often move into positions that have greater responsibility and may be given their choice of departments in which to work. This opportunity often means moving to positions with higher potential earnings and commissions. The highest earnings potential usually involves selling “big-ticket” items—such as cars, jewelry, furniture, and electronics. These positions often require workers with extensive knowledge of the product and an excellent talent for persuasion.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Retail sales workers must be responsive to the wants and needs of customers. They should explain the product options available to customers and make appropriate recommendations.

Interpersonal skills. A friendly and outgoing personality is important for these workers because the job requires almost constant interaction with people. 

Math skills. Retail sales workers must have the ability to calculate price totals, discounts, and change owed to customers.

Persistence. A large number of attempted sales may not be successful, so sales workers should not be discouraged easily. They must start each new sales attempt with a positive attitude.

Selling skills. Retail sales workers must be persuasive when interacting with customers. They must clearly and effectively explain the benefits of the merchandise.

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General Sales Associate Career Paths

General Sales Associate
Office Assistant Executive Assistant Office Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Office Assistant Executive Assistant Assistant Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Office Assistant Teacher Consultant
General Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Crew Member Technician Team Leader
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Crew Member Specialist Consultant
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Crew Member Teacher Consultant
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Assistant Executive Assistant Assistant Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Specialist Account Executive
Regional Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Assistant Administrator Assistant Manager
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Owner
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Account Manager
Senior Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Specialist Account Executive
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Foreman Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Foreman General Manager
Business Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Sales Consultant Account Executive
Sales And Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Foreman General Manager
Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Electrician Store Manager
General Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Electrician Owner/Operator
Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Field Service Technician Account Manager
Relationship Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Field Service Technician Owner/Manager
Internet Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a General Sales Associate?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Sales Assistant 2.1 years
Sales Clerk 2.1 years
Attendant Sales 1.7 years
Sales Assoc 1.7 years
Sales Associate 1.6 years
Store Associate 1.5 years
Team Associate 1.5 years
Seasonal Associate 0.6 years
Top Careers Before General Sales Associate
Cashier 16.4%
Internship 5.7%
Server 5.1%
Associate 5.1%
Volunteer 3.9%
Hostess 2.8%
Manager 2.7%
Assistant 2.0%
Top Careers After General Sales Associate
Cashier 11.5%
Associate 6.1%
Server 4.6%
Internship 4.2%
Manager 3.9%
Assistant 2.4%
Supervisor 2.4%
Volunteer 2.2%

Do you work as a General Sales Associate?

General Sales Associate Demographics

Gender

Male

52.8%

Female

37.5%

Unknown

9.7%
Ethnicity

White

63.5%

Hispanic or Latino

15.7%

Black or African American

10.7%

Asian

6.7%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

52.6%

French

10.3%

German

6.0%

Arabic

4.3%

Japanese

4.3%

Korean

3.4%

Polish

2.6%

Portuguese

1.7%

Chinese

1.7%

Hindi

1.7%

Mandarin

1.7%

Italian

1.7%

Russian

1.7%

Bulgarian

0.9%

Urdu

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Turkish

0.9%

Cantonese

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Armenian

0.9%
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General Sales Associate Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.5%

Universal Technical Institute

10.2%

University of Houston

5.4%

The Academy

4.8%

Ohio State University

4.8%

Kaplan University

4.8%

Missouri State University

4.2%

Saginaw Valley State University

4.2%

Pennsylvania State University

4.2%

Forsyth Technical Community College

4.2%

Kent State University

4.2%

Miami Dade College

4.2%

Marion Technical College

4.2%

Florida State University

4.2%

University of Alabama

3.6%

University of Cincinnati

3.6%

Macomb Community College

3.6%

Arizona State University

3.6%

Texas A&M University

3.6%

West Virginia University

3.6%
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Majors

Business

23.2%

General Studies

7.5%

Psychology

6.1%

Criminal Justice

5.9%

Nursing

5.5%

Law

5.4%

Management

4.9%

Communication

4.3%

Accounting

4.0%

Marketing

3.7%

Computer Science

3.5%

Education

3.4%

Liberal Arts

3.3%

Information Technology

3.2%

Health Care Administration

3.1%

Biology

2.9%

Graphic Design

2.8%

Computer Information Systems

2.5%

Kinesiology

2.4%

Automotive Technology

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.4%

Other

32.4%

Associate

17.2%

Masters

5.1%

Certificate

4.4%

Doctorate

3.9%

Diploma

2.1%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for A General Sales Associate

  1. New Merchandise
  2. Customer Service
  3. Sales Floor
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Contacted customer to follow up on purchases, suggest new merchandise and inform them about promotions and upcoming events.
  • Developed and maintained weekly procedures to ensure excellence in customer service and store accessibility.
  • Maintained sales floor appearance by assisting customers in finding exactly what they need, and organizing all displays.
  • Maintained checkout areas, stock shelves, marked prices on items, and handled cash in and out of the register.
  • Increased sales and facilitated a high number of credit card openings while assisting customers as a cashier.

How Would You Rate Working As a General Sales Associate?

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